Thursday, March 1, 2007

In the midst of a wikipiphany

The homework for my college-bound senior English class last Friday directed students to visit TeachersFirst Wiki Walk Through.

Instructions for Monday were simple and direct: read three pages and come to class prepared, confidently, to share your knowledge about wikis. Prior to this homework assignment, only one student of my nineteen knew of wikis and no one had ever used one.

When they arrived to class on Monday, I welcomed them to a totally bogus conference where they were the presenters. They were given 45 minutes to prepare a presentation for a group of teachers attending their session entitled, "Wikis: 5 W's & the H".

They giggled...until I informed them moments later that half a dozen teachers were going to attend their session later in the period.

And then, a strange migration occured. All of the students moved to the back of the class, to the six computers, and began to craft PowerPoint Presentations.

Fast-forward to the next day: I began class with this question:

1.Why did you go straight to the computers yesterday?

Here are their answers, recorded by a student during this discussion:

I.To use PowerPoint
II.Because it's easier and quicker.
III.Because we can collaborate with our group easier.

I followed up with this question:

2.What is PowerPoint for and what was your intended purpose in using it?

Here are their answers, recorded by a student:

I.PowerPoint helps the presenter remember information.
II.PowerPoint are visuals to help the presenter know what to say
III.It's an easy thing to make in a short amount of time.
IV.It helps the presenter organize information.
V. It's a tool presenters use to help them feel comfortable.

Any thoughts???


Kristin Hokanson said...

I had 2 thoughts when reading...
1. What a fantastic expression of 21st Century skills....they turned to the computers to collaborate, to be more efficient.
2. Why did they go first to powerpoint when you had given them a new tool that they could have used to present?

It reminded me of a great article I once read...from the Journal of Computing in Teacher Education called The Lesson in the Yellow-Handled, Needle-Nosed Pliers

A wiki does all of the things that a PowerPoint does--AND it is online so folks can reference it later---AND the kids could use what they intended to teach...yet they all turned to the one "tool" in their toolbox that they were most familiar with...we are giving them the tools, are we teaching them to evaluate what tools are the most appropriate, OR was ppt the most appropriate tool for the task?

Jane said...

I love the needle-nosed pliers example. I too wondered why the students went right to the powerpoint. As I ran the assignment through the filter of Bloom's Taxonomy, I couldn't help but feel that the assignment although engaging and exposing students to new learning, did not ask students to do more than recall. Students were asked to learn about something and then to share about about taking it to a higher level, students could be applying their new knowlege, using it as a solution to a problem they need to solve, using it to collaborate and gather information from students across the world...basically if we don't expect higher level skills, we won't develop them.